Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Preschool Dilemma

We are so lucky to have found a wonderful caregiver for our two children while we are at work. Connie has raised five children of her own and now watches her baby granddaughter, Jack, Susanna and two other children. She has cared for Susie since she was 5 months old and Susie loves her like another grandma. BUT Susie is turning three and so excited to learn and it is time to enroll her in preschool in the fall.

I visited five preschools while I was on maternity leave and narrowed it down to two schools. St. Luke's is right next to Connie's (where Jack will be) and has the same hours (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.), lunch is included in tuition, and has small class sizes. Holly Brook has terrible hours for our work schedule (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. giving me only 30 minutes between drop off and starting work and only 20 minutes between ending work and pickup), higher tuition, is a 10 minute drive from Connie's house, and doesn't include lunch. Also their school year only goes through the first week of June rather than through June like the other school. No brainer, right? BUT Holly Brook is a Montessori school. I was a Montessori girl and I loved it. And Susie is much like me. A deposit for the waitlist was due before I went back to work, and I signed her up.

First month's tuition is due soon and I am totally having second thoughts. The hours and the calendar are the biggest issues. I have nothing to do with Susie the last three weeks of June. Jamie will NEVER be able to drop her off since he has to be at work by 7:10 a.m.. For the past four years I have done many before school activities with the kids at school -- choir, musical, 3-6th grade running club. I wouldn't be able to do these anymore. Also at least once a week I find I need to stay a little late to get things done at work -- not possible with the Holly Brook schedule.

And goodbye quick runs after work. I will often throw on my running clothes right when the kids leave, jet out the door for a quick 45 minute run, and still am able to get the kids before 5:15 p.m. Or I'll drop them off at 7:30 a.m. and do a quick run before the day starts.

I've talked this over with lots of people and the response all seems to be the same. While Montessori is a great program and worked fine for me, my sanity and Jamie's sanity is important too. I worry that the rush to and from work is going to cause problems in my job. I don't want to stop my before school programs. I want the option to be able to drop off earlier or pick up later and do those extra things at work that just don't get done during the school day. Or be able to go to the grocery for a quick trip BEFORE I get them, rather than try to shop with two kids.

Jamie's response? "Put her in St. Luke's. The fact that you like Montessori isn't worth the stress of the hours and the schedule."

So why do I feel so torn? I want to do what's best for my child. I guess it's just because I know Montessori worked for me. But I never tried traditional preschool, either.

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